Gently bring awareness to the touch of your hands, relax, and observe any habitual movements of your attention away from this point to observe its autonomous nature and insight into anatta.
To develop the perception of anatta in regard to attention by observing its anatta (not-self) nature. This can only be done by letting go of control over your attention and allowing your attention to habitually wander.
During this investigation your meditation object is the observation of habitual movements of your attention towards the six sense fields.
To develop the perception of anatta in regard to attention it is important to set up the conditions to observe attention habitually move. This requires creating a grounding point (body, hands or awareness) and a loosening up of attention so that it will wander, and habitual sensory scanning can occur.
Summary: After preparing your attention as per the instructions in Preparing Your Attention for Insight, be aware of the touch of your hands, relax your mental grip and observe whenever your attention habitually moves away from it.
1) Ground awareness within touch.
2) Allow attention to habitually wander.
Note: For this to happen you must give up control over your attention at this point, allow samadhi to collapse. This means relaxing all effort at this point, even the effort to meditate.
To develop insight is different to developing samatha, your effort is not towards stopping your attention from wandering, but rather towards noticing when it has wandered. This is a crucial difference to understand if you want to observe anatta: your mind is allowed to wander.
This needs to be done if you wish to develop deep understanding of the habitual, autonomous (anatta) nature of your attention.
3) Take interest in when attention moves.
Note: Treat this like a game, clarifying the precise moment attention shifts. Observe its autonomous nature, how it is happening all the time without your help.
In daily life open your awareness wide, use that wide awareness as a grounding point and observe the habitual zooming in of attention, and its autonomous nature to clarify the perception of anatta.
You are ready to progress to Insight 05: Where Attention Moves when:
Please note that the recording and video for the practicality of instruction uses kaya-gata sati (mindfulness immersed within the body) as a foundation for enquiry for practical reasons rather than access unification or jhana.
It is one of the main functions of our mind to scan the six sense fields looking for either advantage or danger.
This autonomous function of the mind can be hidden from the meditator, particularly if they have developed strong samadhi as this suppresses many the minds autonomous functions whenever we turn our attention towards them.
The difficulty in observing our attention as it moves with clarity arises because one or all of these four factors of attention below, have not been developed to a strong enough level yet.
When developed they give us the skill of releasing the mind from the control of fixed concentration, allowing habitual movement to arise and 'staying on the horses back' as it were.
The ability to "stay on the horses back" as it were, is based on the cultivation of four things:
This is the way to strengthen the foundation of your meditation practice, treat observing your attention move like a game - make it fun - it is a game you will only get better at - you can't lose.
Question: I believe this is an important meditation in the series, but I am not grasping your point about being aware of the movement away from touch of hands (or body sense or contact with the floor).
In the meditation, I am aware of my hands touching and then I am off somewhere in a memory. I have no awareness of a transition between the two. This is my 4th time doing it. I will keep trying but the inability to sense a transition is striking to me.
Reply: You said: " I am aware of my hands touching and then I am off somewhere in a memory. I have no awareness of a transition between the two."
This is wonderful, this is exactly what you are meant to see, you are given the 'touch' to create a reference point from which you can observe your attention habitually move and most importantly the collapsing of awareness of that transition of attention.
Literally you are observing a collapse of mindfulness. When mindfulness is forgotten awareness fades, when awareness fades habit takes over and your mind will habitually absorb into thinking.
Keep placing effort into observing the transition point of your attention from one experience to another. At first you will have periods of unawareness of this movement; this is not important.
It is the gentle effort to notice shifts in your attention and also the acknowledging of when you have been lost within habitual thinking that is important. This effort towards noticing that your attention has wandered is what cultivates mindfulness and momentary concentration.
In this way gradually your mindfulness of these habitual shifts of your attention will strengthen and the periods in which you wander off before being aware of it will shorten. With practice you will be able to observe the very arising of thinking itself without being lost within it.
Keep up the investigation, treat it like a game. Once you have learnt this skill you can apply it to all the meditation training that you do.
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